Federal Judge Refuses to Use 'Redskins' in Court Documents

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, who is presiding over a lawsuit involving the Washington Redskins, has banned the use of the team's name in court documents.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

A federal judge in Maryland issued a pretrial ruling last week in a lawsuit against the Washington Redskins that purposely contained no mention of the Redskins name.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte is currently presiding over a lawsuit brought by New York Giants linebacker Barrett Green against the Redskins. Last week, he issued a 21-page ruling that purposely did not contain the team’s name, which has been described as “disparaging” to Native Americans.

Messitte’s ruling responded to a request by the Redskins to dismiss a lawsuit in which Green accused a former Redskins player of intentionally injuring his knee in 2004 as part of a “bounty” program that paid players bonuses for violating NFL rules during games, The Washington Post reports.

In 2012, the NFL punished the New Orleans Saints for rewarding players for injuring opponents under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. After Redskins players said the same bounty program existed when Williams coached the team from 2004 to 2007, the NFL investigated the allegations but did not punish the team.

Messitte’s ruling contained the following footnote on the first page:

  • “Pro Football’s team is popularly known as the Washington ‘Redskins,’ but the Court will refrain from using the team name unless reference is made to a direct quote where the name appears. Pro Football’s team will be referred to hereafter simply as ‘the Washington Team.’”

Months earlier, Messitte ordered lawyers involved in the case not to use the team’s name in his courtroom since the name has been described as an offensive slur against Native Americans, The Washington Post reports.

The recent backlash against the team’s name arguably began when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revoked six of the team’s trademark registrations in June. Days later, three Virginia legislators announced the formation of the “Redskins Pride Caucus” to combat congressional involvement in the Redskins franchise. Most recently, left-leaning political blogger Ben Tribbett, who was hired by the Redskins to defend the team’s name, abruptly resigned from his position after just two weeks on the job.

Jody July 17, 2014 at 09:30 AM


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